The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir

Ken Harmon, Dutton, $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-0-525-95195-7
In Harmon's first novel, an off-beat blend of whimsy and noir, 1,300-year-old elf Gumdrop Cole loses his job as one of Santa's helpers after word gets out that Cole roughed up a human, Raymond Hall. Coal and Claus already had major philosophical differences over whether naughty children should get presents on Christmas, with Coal believing that rewarding bad behavior was unfair to the good kids. When Hall's little son finds his father's bloody corpse, Coal becomes the chief murder suspect. Aided by Rosebud Jubilee, "pipsqueak reporter from The Marshmallow World Gazette," Coal tries to clear his name and identify the real culprit, whom he believes committed the crime as part of a coup against Santa himself. Harmon's mix of characters with names like Dingleberry Fizz with violence straight from a Mike Hammer story won't be to every taste. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 11/29/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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